3-500 Bats, 8 Rabies Shots & 3 Antibiotics: Why I Won’t Vote For Brett Davis on Tuesday

I normally don’t like to write negative posts on my blog, but I need to get this story out.

My five roommates and I (including Jesse) rented an apartment on N. Hancock St., from Brett Davis. The lease was supposed to begin on August 13th 2010 and was supposed to end on August 13th 2011, but we ended up mutually annulling the lease because of all of the problems associated with the house.  As you may or may not know, Brett Davis is running for Wisconsin Lt. Governor and the primary is this Tuesday.

Here’s what happened:

My friends and I moved into the top two floors of a house on N. Hancock street on August 15th and quickly found out that there were bats sharing the house with us.  Each night (and many mornings) for the seven days that we lived there, at least 3-4 bats would fly around our living room and bedrooms.  From the first night, we alerted our landlord Brett Davis via phone, that there were bats living in the apartment.  In fact, our second night in the apartment, Brett was at our house when bats were in our living room and he helped us get them out of the house.  Our downstairs neighbors, who had lived upstairs the year before, claimed that they had alerted Brett about the bat problem previously.  He did not seem worried and told us that he would take care of it.  He also asked us to pay our rent and security deposit.

My roommate Ryan sent the following email on the 19th:

On Aug 19, 2010, at 9:20 AM, Ryan wrote:

Dear Brett,

Last night we had more bats in the house.  The tenants downstairs let us know that there has always been bats in the house and that they would let them out every night.  They also said you were aware of the infestation before we even moved in.  None of us want to share the house with bats and none of us are crazy about having to let them out or catch them every night for the next year.  Had we known prior to signing the lease that you had a bat problem in your property, we would not have signed the lease.  Please address the problem and find out how they are entering the 2nd floor living room/kitchen/bedrooms and seal up the house with caulk, plaster, whatever to ensure that we no longer will have this problem.

Thanks,

Brett responded:

I will take care of it as soon as possible. I was certainly not aware of the extent of the issue as you describe it. It would have been taken care of by now otherwise. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

Brett

Sent from my iPhone

It seems to me that Brett was indeed aware that there were bats in the house because he said he was “not aware of the extent of the issue.”

My roommate Jesse sent this email the next morning, after being woken up by animals above his head:

On Aug 20, 2010, at 8:55 AM, Jesse wrote:

Brett,

I hate to keep throwing things at you but this morning I lay awake in my bed between 630-730 listening to the family of animals running along my walls and ceiling. This place needs some sort of fumigation on top of bat control. You can understand my hesitation providing a rent check and security deposit until such imminent concerns are taken care of. I really am not trying to pull anything here or be a difficult tenant. This is just crazy to me.

Brett responded shortly thereafter:

On Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 8:57 AM, Brett Davis wrote:
As you know it is being dealt with.

Sent from my iPhone

But it really wasn’t being dealt with.  Brett told us that he could not get an animal control expert into the house for a week.  We were not convinced and the next night, as we were huddled in a room while 3 bats were flying around our living room, we googled “bat removal Madison” and found someone who came the next day.

The bat expert, or Batman as I called him, told us that we had a “maternal colony of bats” with “300-500 members” and that they were getting through a hole “a car could drive through.”  We assumed that he was exaggerating, but there was an approximately 15×2 foot hole in the soffit on the 2nd floor, filled with what appeared to be squirrel nests.  This hole appeared to have been there for a significant amount of time, as the wood was rotting and it was filled with leaves, sticks and other debris.  See pictures from my iPhone:

Approx 15x2 foot hole in soffit

Close up of hole in house from second floor

During our time in the house, most of my roommates experienced health problems.  I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a lung infection that my doctor told me was “likely from the bat guano buildup in the house” and I went onto three prescription drugs to clear up the infection.  I’m still not back to 100%.

At this point, we informed Brett that we were moving out and we expected to be let out of the lease.  Both Brett and his wife threatened us with legal action should we pull out, but about two hours later, Brett left all of us apologetic messages and agreed to let us out of the lease.  Within a few hours, the Davis’ had relisted the house on Craigslist, with no mention of bats, holes or any mice or any other problems.  To their credit, they took down the ad after a few days, but as far as we can tell, the downstairs tenants are still living in the lower apartment.  Bat guano presents serious health hazards that can cause lung damage, and in some cases, blindness and even death.

To their credit, they deleted their ads a few days later, so this is all that's left

Because there were 300-500 bats in the residence, our doctors forced us all to get rabies shots, which can cost up to $10,000 for people without insurance.  Rabies shots consist of between 8-10 shots over a two week period, with the first set administered at the emergency room.  And trust me, these shots are painful (think getting injected with about a shot glass of maple syrup right into your butt and legs).

Many of us had to take time off of work to seek medical care, find new places to live and move for a second time.  I know that Jesse and I did not put in a full day of work from August 18th until today, when I had to drive to Milwaukee to get my last rabies shot.  I even got 3 migraines as a direct result of the antibiotic I was taking to battle my lung infection.

We also had to stay with friends from the 19th-23rd until we were able to find a new place to live.

Brett attempted to settle this dispute for $4,500 total, but that does not even cover one of my roommates who had a $5,000 deductible on is health insurance.  Brett has now referred the matter to their insurance company and we are pursing our claim for, among other damages, medical expenses, lost wages, moving expenses and other damages.

In my opinion there were only two possibilities here.  Either Brett:

  1. Did not know about the bat problem, but did not maintain his property.  This lack of upkeep led to an approximately 15×2 foot hole, which allowed bats to take up residence.
  2. Brett knew about the bats from the previous tenants and he knew about the hole from inspecting the property.  He then rented it to us without mentioning these facts.

In my opinion neither put Brett in a good light.  The Davis’ repeatedly dismissed our concerns until we showed that we were serious and were going to continue pursuing the matter.  They had this attitude regarding cleaning, bats, the hole, mice and a whole host of other concerns.  We have email correspondence, photos, voice mails, settlement offers and other proof to back up our story, plus many more details.

And before people start to claim that I’m just some liberal who wants to screw a Republican, please refer back to my post about why I won’t vote for Russ Feingold.  I call them as I see them and I won’t vote for someone who treats me this poorly.  Here’s a few more photos:

Bat/mouse poop on silverware. It was clean when we moved in.

Drop cieling near the hole (above Jesse's bed)

In between Brett threatening to take us to court and when he agreed to let us out of our lease, we took pictures of what came out of the drop ceiling. Poop, torn up insulation and other junk.

  • You’re with me, Leather

    wow, crazy this guy even has a chance to be Wisconsin Lt. Governor. I hope you end up getting paid

  • corky

    The Davises’ response is too little too late. It is unconscionable that they would rent to you with the house in that condition. Could they possibly not have realized that it was so bad? Do they never go into their property or look at it from the outside? It seems more likely to me that as long as they were able to get someone to rent it, they did not care.

    Maximizing rental profits is one thing; subjecting renters to hundreds of bats and risk of an agonizing death from rabies is quite another.

    He should be disgusted at his lack of attention to his property and his utter disregard for the health and safety of his tenants.

    I hope I do not have to make a choice between a ticket that includes him or a ticket with Barrett at the top.

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  • Stinky

    Wow. Funny how Mr. Davis was unaware of ‘the extent’ of the problem. ONE bat is too many!!! It doesn’t matter that there was one, fifteen or 500! Word of mouth is a powerful thing and if more people read blog(s) like this one, it’s really going to affect Mr. Davis’ political career. If he can’t take care of his own rental property, how in holy hell is he gonna take care of Wisconsin’s property and issues????

  • Lorivannatta

    Imagine this – Can you please explain WHY the former Secretary of Health and Human Services is stumping for Brett Davis?
    Neither can we because we can’t get a hold of Thompson or Davis.
    Guess they’re hiding in the dark with the bats….

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  • Anonymous

    probably the most disgusting madison slum lord story i’ve heard, but certainly not the only one.

    hope you recover quickly…

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      crazy this guy even has a chance to be Wisconsin Lt. Governor.

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  • Lavannatta

    LVanNatta
    You did a good thing by speaking out.
    Will you please keep me posted on your health and the legal battle?

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